With the election only days away, it’s back to the drawing board for the Green Party of Alberta. According to its president, Marco Reid, the party has effectively given up winning a seat this year, but it has a new game plan for future elections.
“It has been, more than anything, a learning curve of how voters respond to the Green Party under pressure, and that’s being caught between the NDP and UCP rivalry,” he says. “We’re trying to see how we fit and how we get momentum and movement for the purpose of gaining seats in the [legislature].”
The small party—made from the ashes of The Alberta Greens (1990 – 2009)—has never held a seat in the legislature.
According to Reid, the Green’s stances on building a locally-focused economy could have resonated with former PC and Wild Rose/ current UCP voters, but, if these messages made any impact, they were quickly overshadowed by what has largely been a two-party race.
“With such cultural disdain against Rachel Notley, we realized that we weren’t going to get that audience,” he says.
Further, Reid thought more left-leaning citizens might consider voting Green for its stronger dedication to ecological matters than the Notley Government, but a familiar mechanism effectively blocked this hope—many voters in this camp see this election as a “lesser of two evils” race, he says.
The big hope of the provincial Green party is that this won’t be the case going forward. Alberta’s a bit of an interesting beast, though, according to Reid. The Liberal Party, which once made up the small opposition against the PC party, has all but disappeared, while the NDP, which had precious few seats prior to 2015’s election managed to form a majority government out of nowhere.
Reid says the party had also hoped the federal Liberal Party would have “stuck to their guns” about proportional representation and then that would have trickled down into Alberta.
“We obviously didn’t get that. We’re not seeing a lot of traction with proportional representation anywhere. Without beating around the bush, that’s the best way the Greens are going to get in,” he says.
Next election’s strategy will, likely, focus on gaining a seat or two in Green-friendly ridings like Calgary-Mountain view. It also needs to raise more interest across the province, which can be tricky in rural ridings, Reid says.
Last election the party ran 20-odd candidates, and managed to bump this number up to 30 for April 16th’s election. It also announced a new party leader, Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes, an Indigenous social justice activist.
The party also hopes to reach out to Indigenous voters in the province.
“I don’t think we’ve seen true recognition or any kind of respect for giving sovereignty to our Indigenous populations to maintain and run their own nations,” Reid says.
“It can be much more of a communicative, levelled, organized government instead of top-down from a fancy legislature in Edmonton.”
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